We’ve all seen it: A professional athlete gets hit, sustains a concussion, walks off the field, and then before we know it, is back to “work” as if nothing had ever happened. This promotes the idea that a concussion can’t be too serious or surely the player would have to take some time off to recover, right? Nothing could be further from the truth, especially when it comes to our very own future superstars.
How to Identify a Concussion
If you have a child participating in sports, or coach young athletes, it’s important to understand how a concussion occurs and how to identify one. A concussion is a brain injury most commonly brought on by a strong impact to the head. Most of the time, symptoms are temporary, but it can be more serious if left unconfirmed and activity resumes. A concussion can be identified if, after an incident, someone becomes unconscious, there are signs of confusion or memory loss, the injured person becomes clumsy or slow in speech, or there are physical signs such as a severe headache, dizziness, nausea/vomiting, or double vision. If you notice any of these symptoms, the athlete should immediately be removed from the activity and taken to a doctor as soon as possible.
How Common are Concussions?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reports that between one million and two million children and adolescents incur concussions every year due to sports, the number of which may actually be low due to those that go unreported. Not to mention, many young athletes don’t want to admit they may be injured out of fear that they won’t be permitted to play. Almost every sport carries the potential for a concussion, but contact sports for both genders are the primary culprits, especially football and soccer.
What to do After Concussion
The effects of a concussion are generally resolved within about four weeks, but every case is different. There are, however, some standard precautionary steps to take before returning to the field or court. Resuming the activity should be avoided until the child has achieved a full recovery and their doctor’s permission. Also, exertion levels, both physical and mental, should be decreased, but may gradually return to normal during course of recovery. In some cases, the physician may recommend that the child needs to have a temporarily-lightened academic load to allow the brain proper healing time. There isn’t any research currently that indicates electronics usage has a negative effect post-concussion. In fact, eliminating technology altogether for a young athlete who has been injured has actually been reported to cause depression and anxiety.
According to the AAP, research is still be conducted regarding the long-term effects of concussions, but it is vital to have the child evaluated after any type of head injury, especially if the previously mentioned symptoms are observed.
If you think your child may have suffered a concussion, please contact us. We will evaluate the severity, come up with a treatment plan, and help your athlete get back on the field or court safely.